Operation Pointe Maisonnette

From Wikipedia…

Pointe de Maisonnette was the focal point of a minor naval operation during World War II which saw vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy ambush U-536 in late September 1943 as part of what is known as the Battle of the St. Lawrence.

Canadian military intelligence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intercepted mail addressed to several Kriegsmarine officers (including Otto Kretschmer)

Otto Kretshmer

Otto Kretschmer

imprisoned at the Camp 30 prisoner of war camp at Bowmanville, Ontario in early 1943. The correspondence detailed an escape plan where the prisoners were to tunnel out of the camp and make their way (using currency and false documents provided to them) through eastern Ontario and across Quebec to the northeastern tip of New Brunswick off the Pointe Maisonnette lighthouse where the POW escapees would be retrieved by a U-boat.

Canadian authorities did not tip off the POWs and detected signs of tunnel digging at Camp 30 shortly afterward. All POWs except one were arrested at the time of their escape attempt; the sole POW who managed to escape travelled all the way to Pointe de Maisonette undetected, likely travelling onboard Canadian National Railways passenger trains to the Bathurst area. This POW was apprehended by military police and RCMP on the beach in front of the lighthouse the night of the arranged U-boat extraction.

The RCN provided a U-boat counter-offensive force (code-named “Operation Pointe Maisonnette”) that was led by HMCS Rimouski (K121), which was outfitted with an experimental version of diffuse lighting camouflage for the operation.

HMCS RIMOUSKI

HMCS RIMOUSKI

HMCS Rimouski

Type: Corvette

Class: FLOWER Class 1939-1940

Displacement: 950

Length: 205.1

Width: 33.1

Draught: 11.5

Speed: 16

Compliment: 6 Officers and 79 Crew

Arms: 1-4″ Gun, 1-2 pdr, 2-20mm, Hedgehog

Pendant: K121

Builder: Davie Shipbuilding and Repairing Co. Ltd., Lauzon, Que.

Keel Laid: 12-Jul-40

Date Launched: 03-Oct-40

Date Commissioned: 26-Apr-41

Paid off: 24-Jul-45

Remarks: Focsle Extended, Liverpool, NS, 28 Aug 43

Additional Information:

The task force led by Rimouski waited in Caraquet Harbour, obscured by Caraquet Island, the night of 26–27 September 1943 and detected the presence of U-536 off Pointe de Maisonnette while shore authorities arrested the POW escapee.

U-536 managed to elude the RCN task force by diving just as the surface warships began attacking with depth charges, however the submarine was able to escape the Gulf of St. Lawrence without making the planned extraction.

HMCS Louisburg

I had received this comment on my blog Souvenirs de guerre

Someone had written this comment:

My father, who survived the sinking of HCMS Louisbourg in the Mediterrean  in 1943, did not have very happy memories of the contemptuous and injust way Quebec sailors were treated on their ships and even after the war.

My father sustained an injury to his backbone, and his lungs were affected by toxic fumes caused by the fire on board the ship. This French-Canadian who was decorated never received a war veteran pension and we had to live in poverty until we settled in Sept-Îles during the industrial and housing boom of the town.

My father was even sent to the brig in Gibraltar because he defended himself against a Canadian who was constantly insulting him and other francophone crew members!!!


My father died in 1973.

This person never wrote back.

I went on sailing on Google and found a lot of pictures.

Here are a few…


louisburg1

HCMS Louisburg…

Photo20CorLouisburgRCN2NP

This how it was called, HMCS Louisburg and not Louisbourg.

Here is a painting I also caught in a net on the Net…299357616_b-hmcs-louisburg-a-memorial

This is a list of sailors who died.

Flower Class Corvette
Builder: Morton Engineering and Dry Dock, Quebec City PQ
Commissioned: 2 Oct 1941
Fate: Torpedoed off Oran 6 Feb 1943
Casualties: 2 officers, 35 ratings, 5 RN

The Casualty Roll
AB ALDRED L. V 22924 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
STO 1 ANDERSON A.F. V 14692 RCNVR BC,VANCOUVER
L/SIG ANDERSON C.F. V 8276 RCNVR ONT,HAMILTON
OS ANNABLE G.C. V 33367 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
AB BANKS M.A. A 4891 RCNR BC,VANCOUVER
AB BENJAMIN S. V 2320 RCNVR NB,ST JOHN
AB BETTESS E. V 24438 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
L/CDR CAMPBELL W.F. O 11898 RCNVR SASK,SASKATOON
STO 1 COURNOYER R. V 4453 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
ERA 4 FORREST G.A.C. V 33125 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
ERA 4 GARDEN R.V. V 25691 RCNVR NS,ENFIELD
OS GAUVIN J.M.R. V 35564 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
TEL GILBERT W.M. V 13821 RCNVR ALTA,CALGARY
AB GRAVES C.S. A 1369 RCNR NS,NEW GLASGOW
AB GRIFFIN E.F. V 22559 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
AB HALL J. V 18600 RCNVR ONT,BELLEVILLE
AB LEWIS W.E. V 1595 RCNVR PEI,ALBERTON
STO 1 MacGREGOR D. V 19596 RCNVR ONT,WINDSOR
SIG MacLEOD G.I. V 319 RCNVR NS,SYDNEY
STO 1 MacPHAIL S.J. V 456 RCNVR NS,PICTOU
CODER MacPHAIL J.A. V 1588 RCNVR PEI,QUEENS CO
AB McCLELLAN J.F. 4612 RCN SASK,MOOSE JAW
LS MacDONALD D.M. V 6251 RCNVR ONT,OTTAWA
AB McDONALD R.J. V 11491 RCNVR SASK,SASKATOON
CERA McNEILL D. V 23718 RCNVR QUE,VERDUN
CODER MERRYWEATHER H. V 12751 RCNVR ALTA,EDMONTON
OS MORIN J.G.E.V. V 3985 RCNVR QUE,LEVIS
O/TEL NINIAN T.M. V 13776 RCNVR ALTA,CALGARY
SIG PATERSON R.L. V 24617 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
STO 2 RICE S.N. V 31943 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
TEL ROBINSON E. V 22987 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
PO TEL SMITH A.J. V 9368 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
L/S STEVENSON J.C.R. V 5282 RCNVR NS,HALIFAX
AB TANNER J.A. V 22913 RCNVR ONT,SAULT STE MARIE
AB VIKSTROM J.R. V 33099 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
STO WATSON N.R. V 9654 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
LT WILSON E. O 78775 RCNR ONT,OTTAWA

The HCMS Louisbourg was part of the Flower class.


levis1

HCMS Levis


It was built by Morton Engineering and Dry Dock, in Québec. It was commissioned on October 2, 1941.
The Louisbourg was torpedoed off the coast of Oran on February 6, 1943.

Ernest Alvia Smith 1914-2005

Victoria Cross – Second World War, 1939-1945

Photo of Ernest Alvia Smith

Ernest Alvia Smith

Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, on 3 May 1914. He was the only private soldier to earn the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.

The action occurred in Savio, Italy, on 21 and 22 October 1944 as a forward company of the Seaforths Highlanders on the German side of the Savio River attempted to consolidate the bridgehead. It was suddenly counter-attacked by three German tanks, two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry.

Despite heavy fire, Smith led his PIAT (anti-tank projector) group across an open field to a suitable defensive position.

pa-132894lgPIAT

His men then found themselves face to face with one of the German tanks coming down the road, its machine guns blazing. Smith held his ground, and at ten metres range fired the PIAT and disabled the tank. The group then moved out onto the roadway, firing tommy guns and forced the enemy to withdraw in disorder.

Smith died in Vancouver, British-Columbia on 3 August 2005.

Citation

“In Italy on the night of 21st/22nd October, 1944, a Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Savio River.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were selected as the spearhead of the attack and in weather most unfavourable to the operation they crossed the river and captured their objectives in spite of strong opposition from the enemy.

Torrential rain had caused the Savio River to rise six feet in five hours and as the soft vertical banks made it impossible to bridge the river no tanks or anti-tank guns could be taken across the raging stream to the support of the rifle companies.

As the right forward company was consolidating its objective it was suddenly counter-attacked by a troop of three Mark V Panther tanks supported by two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry and the situation appeared almost hopeless.

Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his Piat Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the Piat could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a companion, and obtained another Piat. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith’s comrade was wounded. At a range of thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the Piat and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Schmeissers and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out onto the road and with his Tommy gun at point blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith’s position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch, he steadfastly held his position, protecting his comrade and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.

One tank and both self-propelled guns had been destroyed by this time, but yet another tank swept the area with fire from a longer range. Private Smith, still showing utter contempt for enemy fire, helped his wounded friend to cover and obtained medical aid for him behind a nearby building. He then returned to his position beside the road to await the possibility of a further enemy attack.

No further immediate attack developed, and as a result the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the eventual capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River.

Thus, by the dogged determination, outstanding devotion to duty and superb gallantry of this private soldier, his comrades were so inspired that the bridgehead was held firm against all enemy attacks, pending the arrival of tanks and anti-tank guns some hours later.”

(London Gazette, no.36849, 20 December 1944)

vc-cv

Click here for the source…

The battle of l’île Vierge, the night of June 8 and June 9, 1944

If you read French, you can read the story of this naval battle. HMCS Haida was part of it.

Here is the link to the first episode.

Every Sunday after that, I posted a new episode.

This is the link for the second episode.

Today’s episode is the 5th one.

The story is from Yves Dufeil. He wrote a book on naval warfare in the English Channel. His book is out of print, but he sent me this chapter to put in my blog Souvenirs de guerre.

D-Day revisited… The comments

Here are a few of the comments about D-Day found on the blog.

Comment:

Our father was on bloody Omaha at H+12.

He was the platoon leader of an anti-aircraft battery. His mother knew when he was crossing the channel. She paced the hall outside her own parent’s bedrooms with tears streaming down her cheeks. She knew.

Dad told us about the bodies stacked like cord wood – the mines that kept going off as some infantry veered from the ‘safe’ single column paths that lead from the beach.

We owe so much.

May those who stood above that beach, today – prove themselves worthy of the honor of representing these men and the country and freedom they fought and died for.

Comment:

My father-in-law (now deceased) piloted one of those landing ships at Omaha. He never talked about the experience, but my mother-in-law related that he filled up the landing craft with men, motored to the beach, dropped the gate — and watched most of the men get mowed down, or drown. At times he had to pull his service revolver to force a terrified soldier to disembark. His craft was bracketed by shore artillery and missed annihilation by a few feet. Then he pulled up the gate, motored back to the troop ship, and repeated the whole process, time and time again.

My wife’s mom said he was never the same after he came back from the war. Small wonder.

These were extraordinary men, to whom we owe a great debt. Their kind no longer lives, replaced by a weak, self-absorbed, arrogant generation and their like-minded offspring.

God help us.

Comment:

Gerard – Thanks for this – a few years back a roommate took up work as a traveling insurance salesman. Up in the Mt Vernon (WA) area he met an old guy who drove one of those amphibious tanks on Omaha beach that morning. The old guy told my buddy the following and my buddy passed it on to me when he got back to our house that evening.

The old guy told about hitting the beach that morning with him and his tank and crew getting stuck in the shallows; they couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting blown up since everying around them seemed to be exploding. So they drew straws and the old guy (as a young soldier, of course) drew the short one. He undid the tank hatch and peeked out to see what was going on. Turns out their tank had stalled just beyond angle reach of the German guns (not sure which weapon – could have been the 80 mm tank or the multiple barrel mortar). He said he could see from the flashes up on the bluff where the Germans were trying to get them but they couldn’t. Meantime he said he saw the body body parts of American soldiers flying. Then the old guy started crying.

How do you begin to pay homage to such men?

Comment:

My dad was one of the paratroopers (82nd Airborne) who went in behind the beaches before the D-Day armada arrived. I cannot imagine the raw terror of finding yourself in the dark in enemy territory over a mile from the place you should have been dropped, trying to locate your buddies, and avoiding drowning in flooded marshes with a fifty-pound load on your back. And being no adrenalin-fueled adolescent but a man in your early thirties with a wife at home waiting for you.

He took me to see The Longest Day the year before he died– of a premature heart attack brought on by memories of the war, so the coroner said. I remember asking him after the movie whether he was afraid when he jumped out of the glider in the early hours of the invasion. He said, “Courage isn’t not being afraid– it’s doing what you have to do anyway.” I have never forgotten those words, and I have tried to live up to his gift. He gave me more than just my biological existence– he helped to shape my soul and spirit.

Gerard, thank you for another splendid post.

Comment:

Over at The Belmont Club is this wonderful story of what two women burrowed in the French Underground were doing in preparation for D-Day:

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2009/06/06/waiting-for-d-day/#more-4335

Look at their pictures, and be struck by their stunning beauty. Look in particular at Violette Szabo because of whom she bears a striking resemblance to.

D-Day revisited…

I stumbled on this last month

It was an article on a blog.

June 6, 2009

June 6: A walk across a beach in Normandy

normandy.jpg

Today your job is straightforward. First you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net of rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the steel boat shouting and urging you to hurry up.

Once in the boat you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are, from time to time, hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. The smell of men fouling themselves near you as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat mingles with the smell of cordite and seaweed.

In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are in range of the machine guns that line the beach ahead. The metallic dead sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp. And the coxswain shouts and the bullhorn sounds and you feel the keel of the LST grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead and the explosions all around increase in intensity and the bullets from the guns in the cliffs ahead and above shake the boat and the men crouch lower and yet lean, together, forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach and the men surge forward and you step with them and you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson, and then you are on the beach.

It’s worse on the beach. The bullets keep probing along the sand digging holes, looking for your body, finding others that drop down like sacks of meat with their lines to heaven cut. You run forward because there’s nothing but ocean at your back and more men dying and… somehow… you reach a small sliver of shelter at the base of the cliffs. There are others there, confused and cowering and not at all ready to go back out into the storm of steel that keeps pouring down. And then someone, somewhere nearby, tells you all to press forward, to go on, to somehow get off that beach and onto the high ground behind it, and because you don’t know what else to do, you rise up and you move forward, beginning, one foot after another, to take back the continent of Europe.

If you are lucky, very lucky that day, you will walk all the way to Germany and the war will be over and you will go home to a town somewhere on the great land sea of the Midwest and you won’t talk much about this day, or any that came after it, ever. They’ll ask you, over the long decades after, “what you did in the war.” You’ll think of this day and you will never think of a good answer. That’s because you know just how lucky you were.

If you were not lucky that day you’ll lie under a white cross on a large lawn 65 long gone years later. Weak princes and fat bureaucrats will mumble platitudes and empty praises about actions they never knew and men they cannot hope to emulate. You’ll hear them, dim and far away from the caverns of your long sleep. You’ll want them to go, to leave you and the others to their deep study of eternity. Sixty-five years? Seems like a lot to the living. It’s but an inch of time. Leave us and go back to your petty lives. We march on and you, you weaklings primping and parading above us, will never know how we died or how we lived.

If we hear you at all now, your mewling only makes us ask, among ourselves, “Died for what?”

Weak princes and fat bureaucrats, be silent and be gone. We are one with the sea and the sky and the wind. We march on.

Next time, we will look at some of the comments I found on that blog.

Kenneth Arthur “Ken” Boomer pilot over Kiska…

Found a Website about World War II aces and about one Canadian ace…

This is the page on Ken Boomer.

Kenneth Arthur “Ken” Boomer

boomer
Ken Boomer – who got the only Canadian “home court” kill – in the cockpit of a P-40
RCAF    S/L    –    DFC ,   Air Medal  (U.S.)

Born in Ottawa, 20 August 1916.
Enlisted in Ottawa, 9 October 1939.
Trained at Camp Borden,
Earning his wings 29 April 1940.
Sent overseas, September 1940,
Serving in Nos. 112, 1 (C) and 411 Squadrons.
Returned to Canada, April 1942.
No. 111 Sq. (Alaska), 17 Aug. 1942-31 May 1943
Took over command of the squadron from H T Mitchell
On staff duties until January 1944
– when he was posted to No.36 OTU.
Posted overseas, April 1944,
Trained further at No.60 OTU, and
Posted to No.418 Squadron, 20 August 1944.
Killed in action (Day Ranger), 22 October 1944.
– Nav. Noel Gibbons (RCAF) also killed
(Gibbons had claims with J Johnson, F Johnson & R Gray) See magazine Airforce, Volume VII No.2 (June 1983)

Two Enemy Submarines Hit When Caught near Harbour Surface

Alaskan Defence Command, Sept. 28, 1942 — (Delayed – CP) —

First announced success of a Canadian pilot in operations against the Japanese in the Aleutian islands, Wing Cmdr. Kenneth Boomer of Ottawa, blasted a Japanese fighter out of the air in last Friday’s American – Canadian raid on Kiska, it was disclosed today.

Led By Veteran
Wing-Cmdr. Boomer, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, led the Canadian airmen who joined a strong force of United States army fighters and bombers who attacked the Japanese. Before returning to Canada he shot down a German plane in November, 1941.
Two enemy submarines in Kiska harbour were believed damaged by the joint allied force which caught them on or near the surface, United States air force officers said.

Personal Strafing
One submarine came up directly underneath a squadron headed by Lieut-Col. Jack Chennault, son of Brig.-Gen. Claire L. Chennault, former leader of the American volunteer group Flying Tigers who fought in China. Chennault proceeded to strafe the submersible himself. Meanwhile, he ordered his fighter squadron into a combat circle around the surprised submarine.

One Ship Beached
Each of nine planes made three strafing attacks on the undersea ship which rolled on the surface, apparently afraid to dive because of a number of holes in it.
(A Washington navy communique in announcing the Friday raid said yesterday that in addition to the submarines two transports or cargo ships were attacked at Kiska and one was beached. It said the attack was carried out by a strong force of bombers and pursuit planes.)

A second squadron of fighters led by Major Wilbur Miller used similar tactics after sighting another submarine. Although results of this attack were not definitely known, the submarine was seen to be sinking slowly and may have been mortally hit.

Shore Targets Hit
Chennault also got one of the Japanese float plane fighters which rose to greet the raiders. Both Americans and Canadians who have been itching for action during months of patrol and guard work over Alaskan posts, took part in the raid. Wing Cmdr. Kenneth Boomer of Ottawa, leader of the Canadians, sent a third fighter spinning into the bay. In addition the raiding force struck at seaplanes on the water. Air force reports said at least five and possibly more were destroyed. Shore installations were also hit with fighter planes going in low ahead of the bombers and strafing positions violently.

_________________________________________________
Canadians in Kiska Attack Led by Doughty Ottawa Flier
Alaska Defense Command Headquarters, Sept. 29, 1942 —

Squadron Leader Kenneth Boomer, R.C.A.F., who commanded the Canadian fighters which joined the United States Air Forces in the attack on Japanese submarines and planes in Kiska harbor last Friday, is a native of Ottawa. He is personally credited with one Japanese plane to add to his overseas bag of a German bomber, an assist in the destruction of a Messerschmitt and damage to three other Nazi aircraft.
Squadron Leader Boomer, who is 24 years of age, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Boomer of Ottawa, and he attended Ottawa schools and later graduated from Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph. He joined the R.C.A.F. in October, 1939, and proceeded overseas in October, 1940. He saw considerable action with fighter squadrons and returned to Canada this year, being posted to Alaska after a short leave.

The combined American-Canadian attack was most successful, two submarines being attacked heavily by cannon and machine-gun by fighter planes before they crash-dived. While the extent of their damage was impossible to ascertain it is certain that it was heavy. The communique stated that in addition it was estimated that 150 Japanese had been killed or wounded and extensive damage was inflicted on various aircraft.
The attack resulted in the destruction of several Japanese single float fighters, the possible wrecking of eight cruiser type biplanes and the shooting down of three Japanese fighters which attempted to oppose the attacking forces. A merchant ship was set on fire and another was damaged. The combined attacking squadron returned undamaged.

There is a lot more on the site…